noma at Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo

Noma’s pop-up restaurant in Tokyo has attracted thousands of people to gather in Tokyo, and with 60,000 people on the waiting list.

When I lost hope in getting a seat at Noma Tokyo, luck has got me a place two days before I arrive Tokyo.

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I was bombarded with photos on instagram and facebook when Noma first started its service in Tokyo in mid Janurary. I tried so hard to avoid photos online before my visit, but I gave up very soon since it’s literally all over the place.

Although I have been to so many other places in Tokyo, everyone was asking me to blog about Noma. So… I just have to do it as soon as I have the time. So here’s my first Noma experience.

Noma took up a little corner in Mandarin Oriental Tokyo that could accommodate about 4 big tables, 8 small tables and 1 private room. They decorated the place with minimal decoration, covered their chair with fur. Together with the magnificent view from the 38th floor of Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Noma has got herself one great location in Tokyo to set up a 2 month pop up.

Everything in the meal was meticuously executed. To me, it’s more of a personal preference on which dish each diners would prefer.

The meal started with a very photogenic bontan shrimp with ants from Nagano. The claws of the shrimp was still dancing on the plate and you could feel the muscle of the shrimp moving in your mouth. (we witness a shrimp that jumped out from the plate, and landed on one of the diner’s dress) The shrimp was definitely very fresh and muscular in terms of texture. If I was forced to pick my least favourite dish in the meal, this might be it.

Second dish was the citrus and long pepper. Noma picked four different types of citrus, and two of which were picked at different ripeness to create different texture and sweetness. Together with the pepper and sansho, it added different dimensions of spiciness to excite your tastebuds.

As an ankimo lover, the third dish was the most exciting one for me – frozen ankimo served on a thin piece of cracker. The ankimo was packed with flavours which kind of resemble chilled iberico ham. It’s an eye opener for me on how ankimo could be served cold.

While a lot of people loved the four dish, squid “soba” in rose daishi, I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I am really not a fan for roses. But in all aspect, I loved the squid and the combination of the flavours were balanced.

The fifth dish was a twist on a traditional danish sweet – Æbleskiver. The soft cake was stuffed with mustard leaves and topped with pickled flowers. It was not intriguing as other dishes, but it was nice simple comfort food for everyone to enjoy.

Down to the sixth dish – Shijimi tart. Lovely crust – thin and crispy. It was funny to taste the kiwi underneath the clams as they have a kick of spiciness to it.

The tofu dish was pleasing as the flavours of the walnut and the tofu worked well together. The texture of tofu was very smooth as well, though I would prefer some tofu with a stronger flavour, but again it’s more of a personal preference.

The fun dish in the meal goes to the scallop. You can never tell how it would taste like from pictures. This piece of “fudge” was light, cold, yet melts in your mouth just like an ice cream – like an umami, airy ice cream. Very interesting indeed.

The pumpkin dish might be my second least favourite dish. The sweetness of the pumpkin were lovely and the cherry wood and cherry blossom gave a soury kick to the dish. But comparatively, the flavours of the dish did not punch you at your face.

Fermented black garlic were folded nicely into a fan. Behind the black leaf, you get the minced nagano ants. A small snack that was packed with flavours.

Crunchy vegetables were served with an amazing egg yolk. Not the most remarkable dish, but a good pause after the garlic flower before heading to the main dish – the duck.

Noma sliced up the wild duck to allow the diners to try different parts of the duck, including the brain and oesophagus. The duck was gamey, texture was tender, together with the toasty flavour, it was simple yet tasty. One of the best duck I have had so far.

I loved the sake rice ice cream (the texture was very smooth, a bit similar to soft serve ice cream) and the fermented mushroom chocolate (wasn’t expecting such savoury flavour and jelly texture from the fermented mushroom) among the desserts.

I did the meal with the juice pairing. The juice were very refreshing on its own, but I think it didn’t worked too well with the dishes in terms of flavours and body.

But overall, this was an epic meal, with a epic price.

noma at Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo
Address: 38/F Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 2-1-1 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Chef: René Redzepi
Visited on: 14 January, 2015

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